CINCINNATI — So much went into the second-biggest comeback in San Diego history that Philip Rivers didn’t even realize he’d set a club record for accuracy.
He completed his final 20 passes while leading the Chargers from an 18-point deficit to a 33-28 victory over Detroit on Sunday. The 20 in a row is four shy of the NFL record held by Donovan McNabb.
“I didn’t know we’d hit the last 20 until the next morning, actually,” Rivers said. “We were in a pretty good groove.”
He puts his streak on the line Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium against a team that has managed to contain him the last few years. The Bengals (1-0) have beaten the Chargers three of the four times they’ve played since 2010.
San Diego’s only victory came in a first-round playoff at Paul Brown Stadium during the 2013 season, and Rivers didn’t have to do a whole lot in that one. He was 12 of 16 for 128 yards with a touchdown as the Chargers ran the ball and took advantage of Andy Dalton’s three turnovers in the second half for a 27-10 win.
The Chargers have undergone a lot of change since that win, which remains their only playoff victory in the last six seasons.
“Our left guard was on another team, our center was in college, our right tackle was on another team, our running back was in college, one of our receivers was in college,” Rivers said. “It’s a good memory, but I see it more as a long time ago than I do something to draw from this week.”
That one still sticks with the Bengals, who are 0-4 in the playoffs the last four years and haven’t won in the postseason since the 1990 season. They got off to an impressive start with a 33-13 victory in Oakland on Sunday, and immediately started talking about the rematch with Rivers’ team.
“I think a lot of the football team played against the Chargers last time we played them,” coach Marvin Lewis said.
Some things to watch Sunday:
CAN RIVERS ROLL ON?: Rivers’ 20 straight completions are the fourth-most in NFL history. In addition to McNabb’s 24 in a row in 2004, Peyton Manning completed 23 straight in 2008. Joe Montana, Mark Brunell, David Carr and Matt Ryan had streaks of 22 completions.
“Rivers had a hell of a second half,” Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones said. “Stuff happens. We’re prepared for this week.”
LINING UP: Chris Tomlinson is expected to start at right guard, where he was pressed into duty after D.J. Fluker suffered a high ankle sprain in the third quarter of Sunday’s victory against Detroit. Tomlinson had never played guard at any level, but had practiced there. The Chargers probably will keep Chris Watt — a former guard at Notre Dame — at center. San Diego’s line depth already was thin because guard Johnnie Troutman is recovering from a broken forearm suffered in the exhibition opener. Troutman hopes to be back soon.
EIFERT’S ENCORE: After missing all but eight plays last season because of an elbow injury, Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert had an impressive game against Oakland. He had career highs with nine catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns. With Eifert and receiver Marvin Jones back, the offense showed great diversity.
“We feel like we’ve got a lot of talent here and guys that understand what we’re trying to do,” said Andy Dalton, who was 25 of 34 for 269 yards without a sack or interception against Oakland. “So it’s nice to have everybody back.”
BETTER D: Cincinnati’s defense slipped significantly last season, finishing last in the league in sacks, but looked vintage in the opener. The Raiders didn’t cross midfield until the final play of the third quarter and managed only 246 yards.
“They had a heck of a game, just about pitched a shutout there until the end,” Rivers said.
THAT HOME FIELD RECORD: Cincinnati’s playoff loss to San Diego was its only home-field defeat during the 2013 season. It wasn’t shocking in light of the Bengals’ struggles at home over the last five years — only 24-15-1. They’ve gone 3-5, 4-4, 4-4, 8-1 and 5-2-1 at home but managed to reach the playoffs in each of the last four seasons. In addition to losing the playoff at home to San Diego, they’ve lost two first-round games at Houston and one at Indianapolis.
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